The Unimaginable Excellencies of Eternity
The last paragraph in C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, contains a thought so heart-shatteringly wonderful, it causes the human mind to shut down... or skip... or erupt in worship soaked adoration.
The children in the story have just learned that they are dead. There was a railway accident. Aslan is with them though, and that is all they really want. With words of comfort, the Lion tells them, “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
C.S. Lewis then concludes by writing the following,
“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
The thought of a New Heavens and New Earth- where all is made right and there is no sin- where peace and joy and glory and love and holiness abound in measures that our frail minds cannot conceive- is overwhelmingly awesome to consider.
But what if it is actually better than that?
Consider again the last sentence of the story. Lewis says, “The Great story... which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Think about that. What if God is so gloriously glorious that it will take an eternity of time to display His excellencies? And as these excellencies unfold, they play out in ways and stories and relations that not only surprise us, but far surpass all that we can imagine.
Just think of our present story. Who could have imagined that the Son of God would, or could, take on human nature? Who would dare think that God would become flesh and die for sinners? Who among us can imagine that His love could be this self-sacrificing and pure? Or that His justice could be that unwavering and right?
From the perspective of the angels, who could have imagined that God could create a another realm- a physical realm- with entirely different properties and laws- a place where tastes hit tongues, and sights filter through eyes, and physical objects project feelings on skin? Or further, where the love between a husband and wife create life? Or where tiny seeds, when planted in the ground, grow into trees that bear colorful fruits that can be eaten? Or where a setting sun causes vaporous clouds to radiate in colors deep and effulgent?
On it goes, biology and cosmology so grand and amazing, it takes an entire world of people- generations of people- to plumb such depths.
I can but only speculate, and I do so fearfully, but I very much suspect, given the way God has so gloriously acted throughout history that He is going to do things that utterly defy our imaginations and expectations throughout all eternity. And these acts will be so heart-shatteringly awesome and mind-blowingly unexpected that the joy of each new object lesson will pile one on top of the other, forever and ever, time without end, ever in increasing amounts, thereby making each chapter better than the last.
Untold eons from now our joy and delightful worship of God will be so full that we will wonder if it could expand one ounce further; and yet, from the perspective of eternity/infinity, it will have only just begun. It will continue to grow and grow and grow...
The thought causes me to shudder with joy inexpressible.